New Irish pub with 'secret bar' to 'bring the craic back' to Norwich

Aidan Mahon who is turning China Inn on Price of Wales Road into an Irish pub called Pogue Mahon's.

Aidan Mahon who is turning China Inn on Price of Wales Road into an Irish pub called Pogue Mahon's. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A prolific city publican is aiming to "bring the craic back" to the Prince of Wales Road area by converting a former Chinese takeaway into a traditional Irish pub.

Aidan Mahon, whose previous city ventures include the Dog House, the Hog in Armour and Delaney's, will this month begin work on converting what was most recently China Inn into a 1920s-inspired Irish pub.

Aidan Mahon who is turning China Inn on Price of Wales Road into an Irish pub called Pogue Mahon's.

Aidan Mahon who is turning China Inn on Price of Wales Road into an Irish pub called Pogue Mahon's. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Set across three floors, Pogue Mahon's will feature everything you would expect to find in a Dublin local, from live music to a friendly atmosphere and - of course - Guinness on tap. The independent free house will also use locally-sourced produce for its food offerings and create up to 25 new jobs.

But the pub will also come bearing a secret "jewel" - a basement bar which will be only accessible via a hidden staircase with an access code, where punters over the age of 35 can enjoy cabaret performance and a feeling of exclusivity.

China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian

China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Mahan said: "Ever since Delaney's closed Norwich has been crying out for a good Irish pub and this will fill the void that left - and hopefully be even better.

"I'm really hoping to bring the spirit of Dublin or Cork to this part of Norwich - and bring back some of the craic after what has been a tough 18 months for all of us."

The second floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue

The second floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The new pub, which is aiming for a late autumn launch, will be split across three floors, with a secret bar called Poitín - the Irish word for moonshine - hidden in the basement.

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He added: "Nowadays a pub can't just be a pub, it needs to have a jewel. The secret bar will be our jewel.

The third floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue

The third floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

"Prince of Wales Road has been given a bit of a bad reputation and tarnished unfairly, but it already has some great places and I think this will be exactly what it needs."

It is Mr Mahon's first new venture since he was refused a licence for pop-up bar The Weir, on Westwick Street - a decision he said he planned to appeal.

The ground floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue

The ground floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

He said: "The Weir was my reaction to Covid restrictions and we did our very best with it. We tried to create an atmosphere that was Covid-safe but also fun.

"I am the first to admit I got it wrong with the Marquee [the Weir's predecessor], but we did everything to make it work."

The third floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue

The third floor of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The basement of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mah

The basement of China Inn on Prince of Wales Road which is being turned into an Irish pub, Pogue Mahon's, by Adrian Mahon. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

History of the pub

The Duke of Connaught pub. Pic: From the collection of Norwich pub historian Derek McDonald. - Credit: Derek McDonald

The Duke of Connaught pub. Pic: From the collection of Norwich pub historian Derek McDonald - Credit: Derek McDonald

The venue at 72 Prince of Wales Road was most recently China Inn, a takeaway where customers were able to enjoy five dishes for £5.

However, for the best part of 100 years it was a beer shop and pub, while it also had a spell as a joke shop.

The corner property was built in the 1860s and served as a beer shop.

But people of a certain vintage will remember it as the Duke of Connaught, a name it was first given in 1885 as a pub.

It survived bomb damage in 1942 but closed its doors in the 1960s.

Since the closure, it served a range of purposes including as a joke shop in the 1980s before most recently housing China Inn.

But permission was granted for it to be converted into the pub back in November 2019, taking the building full circle.

And Mr Mahan hopes that pints will once again be pulled by the late autumn - depending on how long the conversion takes.



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